The idea of safe sex is drummed into you all throughout school and also in your home life. Everyone gets the birds and the bees chat of when a man loves a woman and, despite it being awkward, it is totally necessary.
Going on contraception can be a daunting experience. You don't know what effect it will have on your body and whether it is 100% reliable. But you needn't be scared.
There are lots of different types of contraception but the most popular four are the pill, the IUD/coil, the implant and the injection.
The pill is taken orally usually once a day and there are different types depending on your needs. There is a progesterone only pill which is often called the mini pill and doesn't contain oestrogen. One which does contain oestrogen the combined pill which contains both. You can take the pills back to back in order to stop your period or you can use a 23 on and 7 off method where you stop taking the pill for 7 days and that is when you have a period.
I personally take the pill to stop my periods. Though I'm not sexually active yet, I take the pill back to back in order to prevent a period. I have a period about once every 4-6 months while on the pill and the periods aren't half as heavy or painful as they used to be. The pill messed with my emotions initially and made me erratic, switching from happy to crying in 2 seconds flat, but that settled down eventually and now I am perfectly happy.
The IUD is inserted into your womb and lasts for 5 to 10 years. The IUD releases copper into your body to alter the thickness of your cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to survive. The IUD has to be inserted and removed by a trained health professional like a nurse or GP but should take no longer than 5 minutes. You will need to check that your IUD is in place every month or so - your health practitioner will tell you how to do this.
The implant is a small plastic rod put in your arm which lasts 3 years and works by releasing progesterone which stops the release of an egg, therefore preventing pregnancy. It also thickens the cervical mucus and thins the lining of the womb. It can be removed at any time by a doctor or nurse, even if it isn't ready for replacement yet.
The injection also releases progesterone into your blood and can last from 8 to 13 weeks. Depo Provera is the most common and that one lasts for 13 weeks, compared to Noristerat which lasts 8. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which makes it difficult for sperm and thins the lining of the womb so a fertilised egg is less likely to implant itself. You usually have the Depo-Provera and Noristerat injections in your bottom, but you can have them in your upper arm.
When choosing contraception, you need to choose the one which is right for you. Different options have different side effects so you need to consider what is going to be the safest for you.
My advice for choosing a contraceptive is:
#1 Talk to your friends - it is always good to hear other experiences so that you can weigh up your options and get unbiased opinions from real people. Your friends are also the people who you can trust to be honest with you. If you don't want to talk to your friends, there are plenty of articles on our website which talk about our experiences with contraception, like this one from Kaitlyn: https://teenagerswithexperience.weebly.com/kaitlyns-articles/my-experience-with-the-implant
#2 Do your research - Google means you can search each type of contraceptive and look into what it says on the NHS website (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/) as well as reading scientific articles, lifestyle blogs or watching videos. That way, you have all the information to help make an informed decision.
#3 Talk to your GP - The best thing to do is talk to your GP. They know your medical history and they know lots about each type of contraception. They can advise what could work best and help you make your decision.
There is always the slim chance that your contraception will fail and also none of the above methods of contraception protect you against sexually transmitted diseases so I'd advise using a second method of contraception (i.e. a condom) just in case. If you're worried that your contraception has failed or you think you may be pregnant, please speak to your GP.
My overall tip for you is don't be scared of contraception. It is there to make sex safe and enjoyable for you and most of the time, it will do what it's supposed to.